Quad bike deaths prompt plea to keep close watch on kids

WITH 18 quad-bike related deaths in Australia already this year, parents and carers are being warned to keep children away from quad bikes over the summer holidays.

Two of these deaths were children under 14.

Last year there were 19 quad bike-related deaths reported, with children under 14 accounting for five of those deaths.

A recent Medical Journal of Australia study indicated that children did not have the physical or cognitive capacity to operate quad bikes safely.

The study found that children under 14 made up a third of hospital emergency department visits for quad bike-related injuries in Victoria.

It estimated there were about 220,000 quad bikes in operation in Australia.

With annual sales in the past few years exceeding 20,000 bikes, the study suggested the injury burden from the use of these vehicles would increase.

"Quad bikes are especially popular during school holidays when they're used recreationally but the ACCC is encouraging parents and carers to choose a safer, alternative outdoor activity," Australian Competition and Consumer Commission deputy chair Delia Rickard said.

"Uncertainty of terrain and where a child is up to in terms of their development, including their reaction times, increases the risk of accident."

The ACCC is urging parents and carers to follow these three key safety tips to keep children safe:

- Never let children ride quad bikes that are meant for adults - it's not worth the risk

- Never let children be passengers on quad bikes

- Do not ride anywhere near children

Further information on quad bike safety is available at http://www.productsafety.gov.au/quadbikes.

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